ATID - the Israeli Foundation for the Study and Prevention of Sudden Infant Death
Organization's objectives and goals
ATID is a nationwide, non-profit organization founded by Dr. Anat Shatz in August 1999 in the aftermath of the 8th ESPID Congress held that year in Jerusalem, Israel. The conference highlighted the need for a national organization to focus on SIDS problems in Israel. In Hebrew, "ATID" means "Future", and the name reflects our belief that "infants are our future".
ATID's major goals are:
- saving infants' lives by educating local communities and health professionals regarding SIDS risk factors and how they can be mitigated;
- providing support to families who suffer the sudden, unexpected and tragic loss of a baby; and
- promoting & supporting research on the topic of sudden infant death.
ATID is committed to serve all communities and ethnic groups in Israel. We have responded to requests for help, support and information from the Palestinian community as well as other countries in the Middle East who lack a similar organization of their own. We are committed to continuing to do so.
ATID's members include parents, grandparents, and siblings, health professionals, psychologists, social workers, physicians and scientists. All ATID personnel work on a voluntary basis.
SIDS in Israel
According to Israel's Ministry of Health and the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, approximately 60-80 infants succumb to Sudden Unexpected and Unexplained Infant Death in Israel each year, the mortality rate is estimated to be close to 0.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The actual SIDS rate cannot be determined and statistics should be viewed with caution because of autopsies and death scene investigations are often lacking. Most population groups within all of our religious communities (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) do not agree to having autopsies performed after their infants have died. Also, the statistics do not include the Palestinian population. Thus, some deaths from SIDS probably go uncounted. Also, it is important to note that the mortality rate is 2-3 times higher among the non-Jewish population compared to the Jewish population.
Organization's activities and ongoing projects
In light of the importance of autopsies to the diagnosis of SIDS on the one hand, and the general reluctance on part of the communities to consent to such autopsies on the other hand, we continue to promote the message that parents may regret not having the results of an autopsy to determine, where possible, the cause of death of their baby.
The results of a survey among the people who participated in our support group showed that respondents felt (i) that speaking to other parents who went through a similar experience is most helpful; (ii) that the participants thought they gained a lot from the group; and (iii) once their need was satisfied, participants felt they could end their participation knowing they could always come back should the need arise. Based on this survey, ATID decided to change its support strategy.
We now run a nationwide network of bereaved parents that provides support on a one-on-one basis. Additionally, psychologists track and support ATID participants at special meetings and through open teleconferencing lines. In addition to providing a support network, in certain cases the psychologist holds private sessions. We found the need for support is most acute shortly following the tragic event. However, some parents seek help even 25 years after the tragedy.
In the past year we continued working on a "Reduce the Risk" campaign to bring our health program to health professionals. This year’s activities included:
- A national SIDS conference for pediatricians and other health professionals
- Presentation at the Knesset Committee for Children's Rights
- Our volunteer nurses are meeting with nurses in various communities and in maternity wards and pediatric intensive care units
- A flyer for every mother is distributed at all maternity wards in Israel by our volunteer public health nurses upon discharge. Our goal is for each mother to receive written as well as oral guidance regarding reducing the risk of SIDS.
The flyer we created has the Ministry of Health's endorsement and includes tips for mothers on:
- How to keep her baby well and reduce the risk of SIDS;
- How to keep a safe sleep environment;
- How to identify a medical emergency when it happens; and
- How to respond when there is an emergency.
ATID's ongoing activities include:
- Organizing and promoting infant resuscitation courses for parents and other caregivers;
- Operating a busy hot line to provide information and immediate responses to queries by parents and health professionals;
- Answering queries received through ATID's internet site;
- Appearing in the media in response to a cluster of sudden death cases
- Launching a new internet site and translating each page into Arabic Russian and English.
Organization's objectives and plans for the upcoming year
We aim to achieve stronger cooperation with the legal and emergency medical services system and hope to reach the point where we are notified of every Sudden Infant Death case in Israel. This will enable us to let the families know about the services and the support network we provide, and to help the families with the medical and legal procedures they must go through.
Financial contributions and support by government or other sources
We aim to increase our fund raising efforts. The issue of funding has been quite problematic for us. In the current climate, other public policy priorities are given emphasis and government resources are simply not made available to us. Consequently, we rely solely on private funding. Due to the economic hardships of the past few years, we have struggled to maintain our services. This has been frustrating because we know so much more could be done.
P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. now accepts contributions on behalf of ATID from U.S. taxpayers and these contributions are tax deductible in the U.S.